North Newton to be cut off from Newton by legislative redistricting

By Adam Strunk 

If a House redistricting map passes, House District 72, which encompasses Newton, will trade North Newton for Sedgwick with District 74.
The information was provided by the Kansas Legislative Research Department about House Bill 2373, which is on the Kansas House calendar for Tuesday.
“In summary, District 72 would expand farther west to Hoover Road, but in the north, a portion of District 74 would come down to NW 24th Street,” Andrew Finzen of the Kansas Legislative Research Department explained via email. “To the south, District 72 would expand into Sedgwick County.”
He included a clarified map from the Kansas Legislative Research Department that shows the new districts as well as the lines of the existing district. The existing boundary line is in red, the proposed District 72 is in green and the proposed District 74 is in blue.
The change would likely result in a more conservative District 72, picking up the City of Sedgwick and swaths of rural Harvey County and southeast Sedgwick County.
It would also mean the traditionally liberal-leaning North Newton would be placed in the more conservative District 74.
For context, redistricting occurs every 10 years based on census values. North Newton has a population of 1,778 and Sedgwick a population of 1,467.
District 72 has swung between Republicans and Democrats in recent years. District 74 has been more of a safe seat for the GOP, with current and past incumbents Stephen Owens and Don Schroeder both being members of the GOP.
Stephen Owens, District 74 Representative, said he’d support the plan.
“Yeah, I’ll support the maps,” he said. “I can’t fathom how complicated that is when western Kansas loses people and everything shifts all over the place.”
He noted that he was fine with his district including North Newton.
“That’s my alma mater,” he said of Bethel College, located in North Newton. “If that’s in my district, I’m going to do my best to represent it.”
Owens did say that, at the end of the day, it would be up to the courts to decide, as it’s anticipated as a matter of practice that the redistricting map will be contested in court. The 2012 maps ended up being drawn by the Kansas Judicial System after they were contested at the time.

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